Freshwater invertebrates inhabit ponds, lakes, streams and rivers. In the UK alone there are an estimated 3,800 invertebrate species that spend at least part of their lifecyle in freshwater. They play an important role in maintaining clean water as they are able to break down organic matter, and they act as an important food source for fish, birds and mammals. Despite both their importance and diversity, many people have a superficial understanding of the morphological features that define different freshwater invertebrate groups.

This course is designed to be a gentle introduction to freshwater invertebrate identification for those that are have had limited or no experience of viewing them under a microscope. We will use microscopes and identification keys to look at what makes a mayfly a mayfly, and how to tell apart the larvae of beetles and flies. Our invertebrate tutor will guide you through a combination of classroom and lab sessions to build up your knowledge, skills and confidence. No microscope or invertebrate identification experience is necessary – this course is designed for absolute beginners!

    • Certificate upon course completion.
    • Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.
    • Please note that this course will involve using specimens that have been killed and preserved.

This course previously titled Looking at Terrestrial Invertebrates with Microscopes.

This course is aimed at adults only and course attendees must be at least 18 years old in order to attend.

What will be covered during this course?

  • An overview of the major groups of freshwater invertebrates in the UK.
  • An introduction to using and understanding identification keys.
  • A beginners guide to setting up and using microscopes to view freshwater invertebrates.
  • Practical experience of using the FSC AIDGAP ‘Key to the major groups of British freshwater invertebrates‘ to identify invertebrates to order level using external morphological features.

See the ‘Example Timetable’, ‘What’s Included’ and ‘Before You Attend’ sections below for more information about this course.

Course Fees

Subsidised Price: £10   Subsidised by the FSC BioLinks project for non-professionals eg. volunteers, biological recorders, wildlife gardeners, amateur naturalists and students. Available to UK residents only. Select ‘Attendee Subsidised: In Person

Regular Price: £75   For professionals and residents outside of England.  Select ‘Attendee: In Person. Sold Out

Tutor: Rachel Davies

Rachel first became interested in invertebrates whilst working on a dragonfly reintroduction project in Cheshire. This included carrying out larval sampling, exuviae searches and adult transects. She later went on to work with mosquitoes for scientific research at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. Rachel currently works for the FSC BioLinks project as the West Midlands Project Officer.

In her spare time, she is an active biological recorder with a fondness for moths.

Covid Measures

In order to keep our customers and staff safe, we ask that anyone attending our centres:

  • Wears a face covering when in shared indoor space (unless exempt).
  • Maintains social distancing.
  • Cleans their hands regularly.
  • Takes a Covid-19 test before they arrive.

Book with Confidence

We understand the difficulties of making plans in the current situation when guidelines continue to change, and insurance conditions are being tightened. In response, we will continue to offer additional flexibility. Find out more here

Example Timetable

  • Please arrive in time for the course to start promptly at 10:00 am.
  • Refreshments will be available from 9.45 am.
  • The course will end at 4:00 pm.

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • 6 hours of tuition.
  • Certificate of attendance.
  • Access to a microscope, identification resources and specimens.

Bursaries and Subsidies

FSC BioLinks

FSC BioLinks is an exciting project for FSC in the South East and West Midlands, bringing together existing volunteers with skills in biological recording and identification, and new volunteers.

This project provides subsidised training courses, learning opportunities and digital tools focussed on invertebrate identification for anyone involved or interested in biological recording, to build and strengthen the community.

Invertebrates provide us with many useful ecosystem services, like pollination and decomposition, which we cannot survive without but their numbers are declining. Few people know how to identify or record invertebrates meaning there is a lack of data.

We are delighted to have been awarded a grant of £1.23 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for this project.

Before You Attend

Getting to FSC Preston Montford

FSC Preston Montford, Montford Bridge, Shrewsbury SY4 1DX

  • Direct enquiries: 01743 852040 (Mon-Fri, 9am–5pm)
  • By Road: From the A5, take the roundabout exit signposted to Mid-Wales and Welshpool (A458). One mile along this road, turn right onto B4473, we are located on the left after approx ½ mile.
    By Bus or Train: Shrewsbury stations.

What to bring

Please note that this course will involve using specimens that have been killed and preserved.

There will be a member of staff with first aid training and access to a first aid kit on site. If you have special medical requirements please let us know as soon as possible so we can plan the course.

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